Margaret Sanger, "How Six Little Children Were Taught the Truth--Conclusion, Part VIII," 17 Dec. 1911.
Published Article. Source: New York Call, Dec. 17, 1911, p. 15. .
This is the conclusion of a seven part series. For Part I, see Oct. 29, 1911, for Part II, see Nov. 5, 1911, for Part III see Nov. 12, 1911, for Part IV see Nov. 19, 1911, for Part V-a see Nov. 26, 1911 and for V-b Dec. 3, 1911, for Part VI see Dec. 10, 1911., and for Part VII, see Dec. 17, 1911.This series was compiled and published as What Every Mother Should Know, (New York, 1912). This part was retitled Chapter 7, "Man's Development." For the new conclusion written for the book publication, see "Conclusion."
The great object which Bobby’s mother had in mind was to make these teachings of such a nature that the children would be impressed with the truth that they are only PART of nature’s great and wonderful plan.
They were reminded again and again of the stages of life--plants, frogs, birds and mammals; of the millions of years it took to bring about these wonderful creatures and that at the top of the list, perfect, intelligent and supreme, stands man. Man, the most complex of all and the most perfect. What responsibilities are at his door!
It was most natural for the children to consider nutrition and reproduction as the two most important essentials of any form of life.
Up to this point this was quite sufficient. The animals had instincts to nourish their bodies and also to procreate their offspring. This seemed their life object, but since man being the more intelligent, there must, of course, be other and broader outlets for this great intelligence. Their own bodies was a subject which took months to cover in study. They were shown charts of the human figure (both sexes) and all parts of the body were named in the same way as parts of the flower were named. Parts of the organs of reproduction were called by their names in telling of the works each part performed. No special stress was laid on the naming of these parts, but simply, casually, as one would speak of the various parts of the eye, or any other organ. In the same manner they were told of the harm done to their bodies in handling or touching any one part unnecessarily. If the eye, ear or nose was dug into, we would surely greatly injure ourselves, perhaps losing the use of that organ for the rest of our lives. The generative organs are no exception in this. To tamper with this most wonderful part of nature’s machinery, means not only sickness, dullness of intellect, stupidity, physical and mental weakness, but oftimes disables a little child for life.
In order to grow into perfect manhood or womanhood, all parts of the body must be developed naturally. If a little bud of a flower were to be roughly opened, it fades and dies long before it can carry out the great object of its life, namely, to develop the baby seeds within it.
So with a boy or girl who carries within their bodies the making of a human life. How terrible to cause that little life to be shattered, just through ignorance and neglect.
The children were taught that there was one beautiful time to come to them--to look forward to and to hope for that time when they can look into a tiny baby face, clasp two tiny baby hands and feel this wonderful and beautiful creation a part of their being--the expression of their souls.
They were told to keep in mind this time which should come, and to keep their minds and bodies clean for this wonderful gift.
As all the children were still too young to go into the details of either menstruation or venereal diseases, it was considered best to dwell on the early tribes of man on up to marriage, and wait for future developments before going further. The tree dwellers and cave dwellers were already familiar stories to them. The fact that people lived together very closely; that the Woman had great freedom in choosing the man whom she wished to be the father of her child, even as freely as the animals chose their mates; that in this freedom great mistakes were often made, such as that for a period some mothers chose their sons or brothers, or fathers to be the father of the new little one; that after a time it was found that this was very injurious to this new little child, for he often could not walk, or talk, and was weak, and sometimes a cripple--and more often died very young.
So the chiefs of these tribes got together and said this must not be, for if this continued there would be no strong young men or women to till the soil or fight off the animals, wild beasts or the enemy. Then a law was made that only those of the different tribes or families should choose each other for the parents of the future children, and here the lesson of the Buttercups came in--that often Mrs. Buttercup would reject the pollen from the stamen in her own house, but would accept the pollen from another buttercup house and become fertilized with that.
The part the two sexes took in different ways to strengthen and develop the race seemed of great interest to the children.
The work of hunting and fishing was left to the men of the family, while equally important work, that of cleaning and cooking the food, was for the women. Men spent much time in making tools and weapons. They were able to save much time and energy when the bow and arrow was invented, for, instead of taking all the time to creep upon a beast or enemy with a knife or sharp stone, he could remain at a distance and do the same work. Thus, men got a little more leisure time. With every new invention their labor and energy was saved, but it took much longer for labor-saving inventions for the women to come into use.
Gradually the marriage form came into existence, as these new tools and weapons became more valuable. Men wanted these to go to their very own children, so a law was passed that the man could choose any Woman he wanted to have for the mother of his children by getting consent from the captain or chief of the tribe. If he received this consent, then she, the Woman, must live with him, love him, honor him (no matter what he did), and obey him in everything. Absolute submission was the law for the wife. If she objected to this and ran away she was cast out and was beaten. Other tribes had the same laws and dared not take her in, so she was left to die. If she did not like her husband and took another for the father of her child she was often not only cast into prison, but either stoned to death or burned at the stake.
Naturally, after years of this treatment, she became submissive and so dependent on man for her living that she dared not express herself aloud, merely as her husband allowed her to do so. If she was very beautiful she was not made to work, but the prisoners of other tribes who had been captured were made to work for her. Often the captain or chief had several wives, but the wife was allowed only one husband.
As the children had been taught the lives of the mother flowers, frogs, birds, bees and mammals, there was no reason why the history of Woman should not be taken up until they were ready for older work.
They loved to hear about this, and it seemed just as interesting to them as the other stories.
It is important that mothers teach children the true history of the race, and get the seed of truth planted for future cultivation.
The marriage laws have had many changes for the man, they were told, but few as far as the Woman is concerned. The different customs of women in different countries can be told them, and the general development of both men and women can occupy a great deal of time until the children are more ready to understand the true or real significance of the studies to be later dwelt on.
The children were never talked “AT,” but always “WITH.” They were allowed to talk freely and once or twice when the older children seemed a little conscious on taking up the matter of their own bodies, yet after a few minutes as the other children joined in the conversation they, too, forgot or overcame the embarrassment and all went well.
The children were told frankly that some mothers did not like their children to know these things, that like the fairy tales and the story of Santa Claus, the mothers liked their children to believe that the stork brought them, or some other fairy tale. They were told that these things are NOT TO BE TALKED ABOUT WITH OTHER CHILDREN, and any time any child wished to know any thing about himself or any question whatever to come to the mother or father, but NEVER to other boys or girls. These children were taught the necessities for the excretions of the body--that in order to have good health this used up waste food must pass out of the body or it would become poison and the boy or girl become sick and die. There was no hurry in telling anything to the children. Most of this information was told on walks in the woods, or at times when they seemed to want to know. One story leads to another, and before long the children’s questions will bring everything from you which you wish to tell.
The result of these teachings has been commented on by the school teachers of these children, who say they are so truthful, clean-minded, frank and open about all things that it is a pleasure to know them.
Every mother can teach her children the truth if she only knows it herself, and has the right attitude toward it. She can elaborate on this plan or outline as much as she wishes, but she must get down to the child’s world in order to make her teachings impressive and successful. The one unpardonable sin on the part of a mother is to let her children learn the truth elsewhere than from her own lips.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project